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Monday, October 10, 2005
  Free Speech for Me and not for Thee
Shield Law Sponsor Lugar: Bloggers 'Probably Not' Considered Journos: "Bloggers would 'probably not' be considered journalists under the proposed federal shield law, the bill's co-sponsor, U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.), told the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) Monday afternoon.

Lugar emphasized, however, that debate is not yet closed on how to define a journalist under the proposed law.

'As to who is a reporter, this will be a subject of debate as this bill goes farther along,' he said in response to a question from Washington Post Deputy Managing Editor Milton Coleman. 'Are bloggers journalists or some of the commercial businesses that you here would probably not consider real journalists? Probably not, but how do you determine who will be included in this bill?'

According to the first draft of the Free Flow of Information Act of 2005, the 'covered person' protected by the bill's terms includes 'any entity that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, or other means and that publishes a newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical in print or electronic form; operates a radio or television station (or network of such stations), cable system, or satellite carrier, or channel or programming service for any such station, network, system, or carrier; or operates a news agency or wire service.' The legislation also covers employees, contractors or other persons who 'gathers, edits, photographs, records, prepares, or disseminates news or information for any such entity.'

A key reason some journalists oppose the popular federal shield proposal is fear that giving Congress the power to define who is and isn't a journalist could lead effectively to the licensing of journalists."
 
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